Friday, 13 August 2010

Write of Passage Number Thirteen: Four Solitudes

Younger daughter and I try to ride the double-decker buses in Victoria whenever we can. Today we caught one which runs from the campus of the University of Victoria to downtown. When we clambered to the second deck, we found the prime seats occupied by four Japanese girls, probably ESL students in one of the university's summer language programmes. They weren't sitting together, mind. Three sat one behind the other on the left side, and one sat across the aisle. All four seemed to be in their own worlds, gazing out the window or examining their cell phones. Each one had shoulder-length hair, parted on the side. Each wore slightly scuffed ballet slipper flats. The tops seemed to be artfully varied: a frilly blouse, a short-sleeved sweater, a navy hoodie, and a scruffy tee-shirt.

The girl across the aisle suddenly extended her arm, and snapped her own picture with her phone. As she fell back into gazing and poking at the buttons, another girl stretched out her arm and captured herself with a bright pink digital camera. She gazed at the result, then leaned away against the window and tried again. And then the next girl raised her arm, and so on. I felt I was sitting in the middle of a piece of performance art or some weird visual haiku full of single arms branching across the bus toward no one:

The girls of Japan
Make a forest of photos
What will be recalled?

Finally, one girl turned in her seat to talk to the one behind her. I could see them glancing at the girl across the aisle, while she watched them beneath lowered lids, pretending to check her phone. The row of three got off together at City Hall. Cell phone girl pocketed the same and got off at our stop, disappearing into the crowd.

1 comment:

JoeinVegas said...

Haiku too - and pretty figurative